Thank you Amy for this week’s Lens-Artists photo challenge
I’m choosing to post this photograph because it reminds me of how much our way of viewing photographs and paintings, and how they affect us, is connected to the direction in which our eyes have been trained to move when we read. In some languages we read from left to right, this is how I read.
As a photographer I want to be aware of how I would like the viewer to experience the image that I am presenting, how I would like them to travel through this image. What feelings and sensations am I wanting to convey, what do I hope the viewer might experience on this journey?
Originally this photograph of the vine creeping on a brick wall, with the new shoots extending towards the left, felt weighted on the right side. When I first saw this image as a photograph, rather than out in it’s natural setting, I had a physical sensation of being tugged in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. I wanted the energy to follow the shoots that are reaching and growing towards the left, to be invited off the edge of the photograph, into space. Yet I kept being dragged back to the right. I became curious about how we ‘read’ and experience images, the natural direction that our eyes flow in, how we are impacted by how we learned to read.
Following my curiosity I flipped the image to see how I would perceive it. And bingo, I had a distinct felt sensation of being grounded, of being comfortable, like everything falling into place and making sense. My eyes now followed the vine’s new shoots with ease.
It isn’t like there’s some kind of order in the placement of things in the visual world that is naturally created!!! I chuckle at this thought. I became aware that it’s my eyesight and brain that have been trained to see in a certain order.
And finally I put the images side by side. No more pull, no more wandering, only the calm sensation of being centered, in balance.
I don’t see this as being about right or wrong, it’s about wanting to be aware and have more choice in how I present images, the effect I wish to create, what I would like the viewer to hopefully experience, whether comfortable or uncomfortable.
Decades ago I saw a movie, it might have been one of Buñuels. All I remember is a man standing in a room looking at a mantel over a fireplace. After what seemed like a very long moment he walked up silently to the mantel, picked up an object and moved it over to another spot. The line that followed was something like “to hell with symmetry!” And he walked away. Evidently that statement had an impact on me, a sense of freedom!